Monday, December 25, 2006

Don't Go Into the light

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cyclist 'Sub-Species'

Gazellopes: Skinny wiry guys who make climbing hills, sprinting, and fast pack riding look so easy any idiot can do it. I hate them. On the other hand, female gazellopes are fascinating to watch, though their indulgent smile and superior attitude is somewhat irritating as they ride away from me up a hill. Come to think of it, I hate them too.

Thesaurosaur: A boring, talkative old fart who goes on and on about how things were so much better in his youth - unless it's ME going on and on about interesting, informative topics from MY youth. Thesaurosaurs are often spit out the back of a pack of Gazellopes, where they regale all and sundry with tales of how much better they used to be.

Rolling Thunderer: A large guy on a bike who ate something disagreeable for lunch. Always be aware of the wind direction when near a Rolling Thunderer.

Lone Horseman of the Apocalypse: Here's the guy who's ready for anything - especially if that turns out to be a post-nuclear wasteland inhabited by cannibalistic zombies. He's equipped to fix a flat tire or nearly anything else too. He carries every important bicycle tool ever invented by man, and a few he's invented himself. He clanks when he walks. Conversation revolves around gloom or doom, unless he's depressed, then it's gloom AND doom. He expects the worst and is mildly disappointed when doomsday is postponed yet again. Inside every dark, ominous cloud, the Lone Horseman finds a darker, more ominous one.

The Duke of Hurl: The guy who will toss his cookies in every time trial he enters, usually on an uphill section, and always right in front of you. Sometimes this leads to sympathetic hurling. Just like the rolling Thunderer, it's important to know the wind direction when passing the Duke.

Flesh-Eating Bambi: A sweet, innocent-appearing young woman with an inner tiger looking for a rich husband or a quick meal. Make no mistake, the Flesh-Eating Bambi is an uber-predator, luring its prey in close before killing it.

Euro-Suave: Known as both predator and prey of Flesh-Eating Bambis, the Euro-Suave sports the latest high-tech bike equipped with the latest high-tech gadgets. He wears this year's kit from a top ranked European racing team. He spends more on cologne than the rest of us spend on beer. Despite all that, Euro-Suaves are often found torn and bleeding on the roadside after an encounter with a Flesh-Eating Bambi, unless he happens to be a doctor or someone else with money. In that case, he'll be found on the roadside in a few years, torn and bleeding from his bank account.

Clueless Bumblerbees: Wandering from side to side, Clueless Bumblerbees have the attention span of a gnat. They're completely unaware of other cyclists, motor vehicles, potholes, or any other potential hazard. Instead, their attention is given to roadside flowers, birds, or cows, and they'll wander all over the road while other cyclists dodge their meandering path. Clueless Bumblerbees live in simpler, less stressful world, and I sometimes envy them for that. I do not envy their frequent crashes or the odd ambulance ride.

Pseudo-Cops: Remaining at the back of the pack, Pseudo-Cops will yell, "Car back! Car back! Car back!" with each shout becoming louder and more shrill, until only dogs can hear them. Their expectation is that the rest of the group will form a single file riding on the fog line. Simply ignoring Pseudo-Cops ruins their day - not that I'd do that, of course.

Chicken Little Hans: Sigmund Freud did a case study of a patient he called "Little Hans". Hans was afraid of many things, but was especially disturbed by horses. In the same vein, Chicken Little Hans is afraid of nearly everything to do with riding a bicycle and insists that the roads are far too dangerous in their present state to permit safe bicycle travel. "The cars are coming! The cars are coming!" is a constant Chicken Little Hans refrain. He will not feel safe until he's given an entirely separate bicycle path system free of the motorists he hates and fears. Then Chicken Little Hans will be free to terrorize pedestrians in the same manner as motorists have terrorized him.

Mister Clean: With an absolutely pristine bicycle, Mr. Clean finds little time to actually ride. In order to keep his machine spotless, he will not ride in the rain, or when it's threatening to rain sometime in the near future. He will not ride on damp streets, and recoils in horror at the idea of riding along a dirt road or even on one that's rough and pebbly. Pebbles can chip paint, you know.

Re-Tars: Not to be confused with the epithet 'retards', re-tars are those who use the same tires and tubes that came with their bike way back in the Pleistocene, or maybe the 1980s. They are polar opposites of Mister Clean. Their tires are lumpy with patches, so lumpy that any cyclist with a sense of self-preservation will not ride near them. The bikes squeak and squeal due to rusty chains, mis-aligned brakes, and cables that remain attached by a few stalwart threads. Re-Tars are often found in the company of the Lone Horseman of the Apocalypse to their mutual benefit.

Infectious Recumberent: Possibly a sub-species of the Thesaurosaurus, the Infectious Recumberent is known to talk endlessly about the advantages of his outlandish machine. He will spend an equally endless time talking about the international conspiracy to suppress recumberents. If you are in close proximity to Infectious Recumberents on a regular basis, it's strongly advised to get an innoculation of anti-Recumberent DNA in order to keep your sanity, if desired.

George Leroy Tirebiter: More commonly known as 'wheelsuckers', but university researchers felt the term was a mild epithet, and the substitute term - George etc. - was more neutral in tone. Cyclists dogged by a persistent wheelsucker who will not take a turn at the front have no hesitation in using more colorful and far less neutral terms to describe them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Private Insurance

Market-based solutions to the crisis are, it should be obvious by now, a distraction. Paul Krugman and Robin Wells summarized the problem in a March 2006 New York Review essay:
Imagine an insurer who offered policies to anyone, with the annual premium set to cover the average person's health care expenses, plus the administrative costs of running the insurance company. Who would sign up? The answer, unfortunately, is that the insurer's customers wouldn't be a representative sample of the population. Healthy people, with little reason to expect high medical bills, would probably shun policies priced to reflect the average person's health costs. On the other hand, unhealthy people would find the policies very attractive.
You can see where this is going. The insurance company would quickly find that because its clientele was tilted toward those with high medical costs, its actual costs per customer were much higher than those of the average member of the population. So it would have to raise premiums to cover those higher costs. However, this would disproportionately drive off its healthier customers, leaving it with an even less healthy customer base, requiring a further rise in premiums, and so on.
Insurance companies deal with these problems, to some extent, by carefully screening applicants to identify those with a high risk of needing expensive treatment, and either rejecting such applicants or charging them higher premiums. But such screening is itself expensive. Furthermore, it tends to screen out exactly those who most need insurance.
In theory, when insurance companies tinker with co-payments and deductibles, they put the brakes on health-care costs by pressuring consumers to avoid frivolous visits to the doctor. In practice, frivolous visits to the doctor are comparatively rare and confined to a few hypochondriacs and hysterics. Going to the doctor is, after all, a fairly unpleasant experience. When people are pressured to avoid seeing the doctor, what happens is that their health suffers. This isn't rocket science.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Worlds Youngest Human Born Today

The worlds youngest human was born today at our hospital. Eldon Hanksworth held the record for 3.7 seconds only to be overtaken by Raj Patel from Calcutta, India.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fall Century Bike Ride

Well I finally did it. 103 miles in 6 hrs and 26 minutes. Fortunately, it was an excellent day with no significant head winds. The temperature did get up to 89 degrees toward the end of the ride but all in all I can't complain. Thanks to a well broken in Brooks B-17 leather saddle, I was in relative comfort throughout the day.

Friday, September 29, 2006

New Copy-Cat Drug To Be Introduced By J&J

Johnson & Johnson will soon launch paliperidone, a once-a-day schizophrenia drug, the company hopes it will pass the FDA handily. The new drug is derived directly from Risperdal, a schizophrenia drug and J&J's best-selling product last year, with sales of $3.55 billion.
After a patient swallows a dose of Risperdal, usually a tablet a day, the liver transforms the medicine into paliperidone, the active substance inside the body. By marketing paliperidone as a new drug, J&J would perform this act of metabolism inside the lab; the new pill would release the chemical over 24 hours. J&J expects paliperidone, if approved, to bring five more years of marketing life to its antipsychotics line.

So by switching from the soon to be generic and inexpensive Risperdal to the new high priced paliperidone you can save your liver all that valuable energy of metabolization. Look for J&J to soon start vilifying their old drug Risperdal and touting their new wonder drug paliperidone. I am sure they will have a new study that shows left handed Albanians that are uncircumcised had statistically significant lower side effects with paliperidone than with Risperidal.

Other copycats have included Schering-Plough Corp.'s Clarinex, an antihistamine that replaced Claritin. Likewise, Forest Laboratories introduced the antidepressant Lexapro, a derivative of the antidepressant Celexa that has gone on to supplant Celexa as the company's best-seller. AstraZeneca PLC's purple Nexium pills replaced Prilosec. Nexium has become AstraZeneca's best-selling drug, as Prilosec once was, with $4.63 billion in sales last year.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Win For Canadian Drug Imports

Republicans in the House of Representatives tentatively agreed Thursday to prohibit Customs agents from seizing prescription drugs that Americans buy in Canada and bring back into the United States.
The deal would let an American carry up to a 90-day supply of medication into the United States from Canada without being stopped by Customs agents, House and Senate Republicans said. It would not let Americans buy cheaper prescriptions over the Internet or by mail-order, officials said.
DAM J.A.M. Bicycle Tour